Point Blank

Kerala floods: Shame how SoS calls were met with deluge of hate campaigns on social media

While haters worked overtime, Centre and my north Indians friends took their own sweet time to wake up to the catastrophe.

 |  Point Blank  |  3-minute read |   18-08-2018
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Around August 10 or 11, when the flooding in Kerala reached alarming levels, I began sharing the contact details of volunteers and rescue teams on Facebook. There were posts especially for non Malayalee friends to donate, but to my utter dismay, no one seemed to notice. I don’t blame them. Apart from the fact that the national media woke up to it late, there was not even a single comment even by the PM. Delhi, was officially, clueless about a fellow state being swallowed by a flood of astronomical proportions.

kerala-690_081818031938.jpgA man rescues a drowning man from a flooded area in the outskirts of Kochi on August 16. (Source: Reuters)

But the haters woke up some time back. Campaigns on Twitter asked north Indians not to contribute to the CM’s relief fund or pray for those trapped, because Kerala was the land of ‘beef eaters’ and we ‘deserved it’. In the newsroom, everyone asked about my family and folks back home, but it took my other friends till yesterday to understand the gravity of the situation. I felt alienated for the first time in Delhi. And after all this hullabaloo about the Centre turning a deaf year and the media getting busy with former PM Vajpayee’s demise, there is still hesitation to declare Kerala floods as a national emergency.

More than three lakh people are living in over 2,000 relief camps around the state, fighting for space and water; the entire civil society have come together and have been working for days and nights to ensure timely donations; the ruling party and the Opposition in the state have come together; 184 people have lost their lives just this month and thousands are trapped. Yet, the helicopters came in four days late and Modi arrived just yesterday night. I began to wonder if this would have been the case had this happened in any of the northern states. Was Shashi Tharoor right when he tweeted:

The Rs 100 crore and the additional Rs 500 from the Centre is falling short; but what is also falling short is empathy and inclusion.

Now there are debates. On how the state should hand over the entire rescue operation to the army and give them full command. It is unbelievable that the third largest military in the world cannot deploy enough helicopters to airlift trapped people, due to political differences and ego. There are blame games; the state BJP which has been relatively lying low all these days will raise its ugly head and find inadequacies in the rescue/rehabilitation operations done so far. The obvious differences between the Central and the State government must not cost lives.

What Keralites need now is fellow Indians in the north to be compassionate and contribute to the cause in any way they can. Stay away from the hate talks and help. There are donation camps in Samachar Apartments in Mayur Vihar and Jawaharlal Nehru University. There are also donation links on Amazon and PayTm. Talk about the calamity and share the message on social media to push for greater support from Centre. Let silence not be the way to treat a state that provided soothing respite from the concrete jungles. 

Also read: The Kerala catastrophe - Could timely action from the govt have saved lives?

Writer

Adila Matra Adila Matra @adilamatra

The writer is chief correspondent at Mail Today.

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